PIQUA — Eagles’ Wings, a small 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, provides equine-assisted therapeutic activities for people with special needs to benefit and improve their development and quality of life.
Doctors, therapists, riding instructors, and those people with special needs have become aware of the positive physical and mental benefits of horseback riding. The horse’s movement provides the sensory input of a precise, repetitive pattern of movement very similar to the movement of a person’s pelvis during normal human gait. The horse’s center of gravity shifts forward, backward, up and down, and side to side just as the human’s does. Riders have the four legs of the horse that they can direct as they wish, which conveys a sense of mobility and power not otherwise available to the physically and mentally challenged.
Benefits from therapeutic riding include improvements in: balance and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, posture, attention to ask, muscle tone and strength, direction following, flexibility, recognizing numbers, colors, letters, and shapes, verbalization and communication skills, appropriate socialization skills, trunk rotation, sensory integration issues, reaching and grasping, confidence and self-esteem.
The organization is seeking volunteers for its next eight-week riding session, which begins on Sept. 17, and ends on Nov. 10. There are five one-hour classes each week for eight weeks — the normal volunteer tour of duty is just one hour per week. If you are comfortable around horses and have a passion for helping people, this could be a volunteer opportunity for you.
You can lead a horse, be a side walker, groom and tack the horses, or help in the care and feeding of the horses and maintenance of the stable area. Volunteer interaction with the rider and the horse enables a rider’s bonding with the horse, which can provide the motivation to do dramatic things. A 10-year-old boy with autism who had never spoken a word joined a riding program. After several months of riding, he was waiting in line for his turn and someone cut in front of him. In a very strong voice he said, “It’s my turn.” This wonderful moment was the beginning of his entry into the speaking world.
To emphasize the importance of the volunteer team, the organization hold orientations before the start of each of the sessions. The organization requires all volunteers to attend an orientation session before working. The next orientation will be Jan. 12, at the Eagles’ Wings Riding Center, 5730 Washington Road. There will be a general orientation at 9 a.m. for new volunteers and a Side Walker refresher orientation at 10 a.m. for current volunteers.
For more information about volunteering, including an instructional video, visit https://www.eagleswingsstable.org/volunteer.